Boo’s rang out of the away end of Swindon’s Country Ground on Tuesday night as Shrews fans vented their frustrations at referee Brendan Malone. He had failed to give the away team one of the most clear cut penalties that you will see this season in what was a crucial promotion clash at the top of League Two.
The Shrews were 1-0 up at the time and had the ref give the decision, even if we had failed to score, the game would have no doubt been in our favour as it was clearly a straight red card for the Swindon man. However, shortly after the incident, Chris Neal failed to keep hold of a shot and Swindon sub Allan Connell smashed the ball into an open net for Di Canio’s men. Ten minutes after this Connell once again found himself with an open net to tap the ball into following a shot smacking off the underside of the bar and catching out the Shrews defence and keeper.
Now I’m sure some Swindon fans that it was the inspired substitutions and tactical excellence of Paulo Di Canio which turned the game on its head, however it was clear that the penalty decision was the decisive moment in the game. As a Shrewsbury fan I can’t help wondering how vital that decision could be in the final running come May.
As a club we seem almost destined not to get promoted, we have finished in the play offs three of the last five seasons and have failed in all three attempts. But if we look at these occasions a little more closely, we can see that we have been on the wrong side of some very bad decisions.
Who will ever forget Wigglesworth’s now infamous decision to award Wycombe with a goal that clearly never crossed the line? A decision that cost us promotion last season with the Chairboys beating us to third spot by one point. One point we would have had had that ‘goal’ never been given.
Two years prior to that we were beat in the last minute of the play off final by Gillingham when Simeon Jackson headed home from a corner. A corner that replays showed was in fact not a corner at all. A massive mistake for a referee to make in the last minute of the most important game of our season.
So how important will Tuesday’s decision be on the outcome of our season? Will this be the third time in four years we have been cheated out of promotion due to a poor refereeing decision? I, for one seriously hope not, but I left the County ground with a gut feeling that it might well be the case once again.
By Shrewbury Town blogger Liam Hoofe